How does someone get a license for a song?4 min to read

By Click N Clear

Published on August 13, 2019

You know music copyright exists and that artists should be paid for their work, but do you understand why?  Music licensing isn’t rocket science. But it can be very confusing, so let’s break this down.

Music copyright is a law that says two things:

1) If you create something, then you own it, and

2) as the owner, you can decide what happens to it.

So, if anyone wants to use a piece of music, they need permission from the owner— in the form of a license.

If you want to mix music and make copies of it, choreograph a routine to the mix, play the mix at training, at home or at competitions or show videos of your performance by uploading to YouTube and social media, then you require a license.

How does someone get a license for a song?

When it comes to licensing music for uses like editing it and mixing it together, you’ll need direct approval from the rightsholder(s) – getting this can be a complicated, time consuming and expensive process. Every piece of music generally has multiple rightsholders and they all have to be included in this process. If even just one of them says no, then you can’t use the song.

When clearing music, there are two main music rights that must be cleared before use:
1) one being the Publishing Rights (to the musical composition, melody, lyrics etc.) and
2) the other being the Master Rights (to the specific recording of a song, whether its the original hit artist or an unknown cover version).

You must obtain approval from ALL rightsholders involved in the work, before use. Here is a video which explains this further:

There are often multiple people or entities involved in creating and releasing a song and there are on average 9 writers on a song; all of whom you need to obtain a license from. Let’s take a look at Beyonce’s ‘Run The World (Girls)’

In order for you to license this song legally, you would need a license from every one of the owners who have a share of the pie! You’ll need permission from Universal Records to use their master recording of Beyonce’s performance, and also need permission from the publishers who represent the shares in the writing; all SIX of them!

Unfortunately it’s not normally cost effective for each rights holder to respond to small individual license requests especially when their shares are smaller.

You will need licenses to cover the following rights for BOTH Master and Publishing sides of EVERY music track you use in the mix music:

  • edit and adapt the music (creating a derivative piece from an original)

  • put a choreographed routine to the mix

  • create a copy of the mix for use at home and in the gym

  • upload a video of the routine online with the music

In addition to this, if you are playing music in your gym or a competition venue, the gym owner or entity running the competition will need a performing rights license from the collecting society(s) in your territory. In the US there are a few which include ASCAP, BMI and SESAC and in the UK it is PRS & PPL. Again you need this to cover Master and Publishing rights.

We recommend getting in touch with your local Collecting Society for more information.

That All Sounds A Bit Tricky. Isn’t There An Easier Way?

ClicknClear works directly with the music industry to pre-clear their music available for you to license instantly. We work with around 100 rightsholders including the likes of Universal Music Publishing, Warner Music, BMG and more to enable both teams and music producers to license great music that is affordable and accessible for either $15 or $25, depending on the track. Licensing your music protects your team, coaches and event producers while ensuring artists are rightfully paid for their work

Find out more and begin your music search here.

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